CATSKILL — Greene County lawmakers are discouraging visitors to the rural county during the global health crisis due to limited resources.
In a message to visitors, weekenders and second homeowners on Friday, lawmakers urged these individuals not to seek refuge in Greene County and not to expect to find resources in Greene County that are not available in their home communities.
Sullivan and Delaware counties issued similar statements to their communities.
“Travel into Greene County from any area at this time is inadvisable and is highly discouraged,” according to the statement. “Should large numbers of individuals move up to Greene County while COVID-19 community transmission is occurring, it will quickly overwhelm the health care, public health, public safety and government. Help may not be available to you if you become in need of medical attention.”
In addition to medical supplies and personnel, groceries are also in short supply, according to the release.
“Please don’t have an expectation that resources will be available to you here that are not available to you in your home town,” according to the release. “Greene County has a limited number of health care resources and testing capacity is also very limited.”
Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb understands both sides of the argument, he said.
“If I had a second home up here, I’d come up,” Mabb said. “I also understand the sentiment of local people thinking they should stay down there. The great reality is they own a home up here. There really isn’t anything anyone can do about it anyway. They live here.”
Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell said that people traveling during this time is concerning.
“It is a concern,” he said. “[Cuomo] urged people to stay home as well and not travel upstate. It could potentially tax our medical system. You just hope people use common sense and stay home.”
As of Sunday afternoon, Greene County had five confirmed cases of COVID-19, located in Windham and Hunter, and 14 individuals are self-monitoring for possible exposure, according to an update from the Greene County Economic Development Corporation.
None of the five confirmed cases have required hospitalization and all are recovering at home.
Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, was unsure how many of the five cases were full-time residents and how many were second homeowners, stating that the individuals would be quarantined in the same manner regardless.
When Greene County was at four cases on Friday, lawmakers said the cases were not local.
“Greene County has four confirmed cases, none of which originated from within the county,” according to a statement released by the Legislature on Friday.
Columbia County has 18 confirmed cases, Mabb said. Two-hundred-twenty-three Columbia County residents have been tested, 59 are under mandatory quarantine and 80 are under precautionary quarantine, according to the website.
Mabb estimated that three to four of the cases are residents of New York City, he said.
“Some have been here the whole time and still have it,” he said. “You can’t point to people from New York and say they’re the ones who brought it here. It was coming.”
All communities have the potential to contract the “successful little bug,” Mabb said, but metropolitan populations have greater population densities.
“When the city of New York is fully awake and walking down one of the streets in Manhattan there is no way to socially distance ourselves,” he said. “I get it. I get why they want to escape because they can.”
As more individuals are tested, it shows how prevalent the virus is.
“Testing has confirmed what we have known all along,” Mabb said. “In every community the potential is there.”
Area hospitals including Columbia Memorial Health, Albany Medical Center, Ellis Hospital and St. Peter’s Hospital announced last week that they would no longer offer testing to the general public.
Columbia Memorial Health’s testing will be limited to hospitalized patients and doctors and nurses who may have been exposed.
For information regarding the coronavirus contact: Greene County Call Center at 518-635-5165. Columbia Memorial Hotline 518-828-8249. State Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.